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Title: Real-Time Active Cosmic Neutron Background Reduction Methods

Neutron counting using large arrays of pressurized 3He proportional counters from an aerial system or in a maritime environment suffers from the background counts from the primary cosmic neutrons and secondary neutrons caused by cosmic ray-induced mechanisms like spallation and charge-exchange reaction. This paper reports the work performed at the Remote Sensing Laboratory–Andrews (RSL-A) and results obtained when using two different methods to reduce the cosmic neutron background in real time. Both methods used shielding materials with a high concentration (up to 30% by weight) of neutron-absorbing materials, such as natural boron, to remove the low-energy neutron flux from the cosmic background as the first step of the background reduction process. Our first method was to design, prototype, and test an up-looking plastic scintillator (BC-400, manufactured by Saint Gobain Corporation) to tag the cosmic neutrons and then create a logic pulse of a fixed time duration (~120 μs) to block the data taken by the neutron counter (pressurized 3He tubes running in a proportional counter mode). The second method examined the time correlation between the arrival of two successive neutron signals to the counting array and calculated the excess of variance (Feynman variance Y2F)1 in the neutron count distribution frommore » Poisson distribution. The dilution of this variance from cosmic background values ideally would signal the presence of man-made neutrons.2 The first method has been technically successful in tagging the neutrons in the cosmic-ray flux and preventing them from being counted in the 3He tube array by electronic veto—field measurement work shows the efficiency of the electronic veto counter to be about 87%. The second method has successfully derived an empirical relationship between the percentile non-cosmic component in a neutron flux and the Y2F of the measured neutron count distribution. By using shielding materials alone, approximately 55% of the neutron flux from man-made sources like 252Cf or Am-Be was removed.« less
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Journal Name: Proc. SPIE 8854, Penetrating Radiation Systems and Applications XIV, 885408; Journal Volume: 8854; Conference: SPIE Optics + Photonics; August 2013 in San Diego, CA
Research Org:
Nevada Test Site/National Security Technologies, LLC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Neutron counting, cosmic background, ship effect, spallation neutrons, Feynman variance Y2F, neutron shielding, electronic veto, time correlation